One of the challenges many teachers experience is trying to meet the needs of their diverse student population in their respective classes. Differentiated instructions strategies (D.I.) enables teachers to better meet these varied needs and in turn enables students to be successful because their needs are met at their level of readiness, interests and learning styles.
One simple strategy that all teachers can utilize is a RAFT, which is an acronym for Role, Audience, Format and Topic. The format of this strategy allows for students to structure their work, and enable them to find a specific perspective or point of view. I personally am fond of using RAFT, as this strategy can be used in all content areas, they can be used as assessment, and there are opportunities for integration with multiple subjects. The example below is a RAFT integrating Language and Drama, but this can be used in Social Studies and Science. To really allow for authentic differentiation, teachers can let students choose their own roles, audiences, format and topic.
An example of how I used RAFTs was as a culminating task for the novel Red Scarf Girl. My students read the novel about a young girl recalling her childhood growing up in Chairman Mao’s China during the Cultural Revolution. Students had also been learning about monologues, and for their culminating task, they were asked to develop a short monologue based on a character in the novel. Using a RAFT that I developed, students had various options as to how to approach their drama piece. Below is the RAFT that the students chose from. However, as with all RAFTs, it was also important to allow students an option to create their own RAFT.
In assessing their monologues, I was able to assess writing, oral communication, reading and drama, with a particular focus on their knowledge and understanding of the story, and their ability to make inferences. From doing this activity, having students choose allowed them an opportunity to do something that interested them. I felt my students were really invested in the activity, which resulted in students taking risks in both writing and their drama presentations, and some of the students who normally had difficulty with writing were able to have a structure to keep their writing focused and on topic.
In my next post, I will share another task in which I utilized a RAFT with Red Scarf Girl, but through a non-fiction writing task.